The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has surveyed willingness to pay (WTP) to establish internationally comparable values to avoid negative health effects from chemical exposure. OECD undertook surveys in Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, the Republic of Korea, Norway, Poland, South Africa, Sweden, Türkiye, the UK, and the US, among other countries. Results reveal that people are willing to pay a significant amount of money to reduce chemicals-related health risks.

A brochure titled, ‘Surveys of Willingness-to-Pay to Avoid Negative Chemicals-related Health Effects (SWACHE),’ notes that although many countries have established legal frameworks to address health risks from chemical exposure, the cost of policy inaction is not well understood and data are lacking. Thus, it indicates, assessing chemicals management options and environmental policies can be improved by better estimating their costs and benefits.

To fill this gap, as part of its Surveys on WTP to Avoid Negative Chemicals-Related Health Impacts (SWACHE) project, OECD brought together expertise on chemical safety and economic analysis and undertook surveys of citizens from a range of countries to determine WTP values. The surveys employ approaches that economists can use to determine the full monetary value respondents place on reducing their risk of a particular health effect. The values can then be used to measure the economic benefits of minimizing the impacts of chemicals on human health.

The project gathered data to quantify the monetary benefit of reducing health risks, by conducting 46 surveys of a large sample of citizens across 22 countries. Each survey, specific to one health impact, was implemented in at least five countries. For each country and for each health effect, a representative sample of at least 1,200 respondents was collected. 

The first round of surveys covers:

The value of a statistical case is estimated in USD Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) from USD 91,000 for infertility to USD 1,194,000 for very low birth weight, on average, across the countries surveyed. The second highest value is for chronic kidney disease (USD 805,000), followed by childhood asthma (USD 430,000) and adult asthma (USD 280,000). As an example, the mean WTP for reducing asthma severity equals USD 529 per year for adults and USD 948 per year for children. People are also willing to pay USD 3,050 on average to avoid the loss of one IQ point in children. The WTP values can be used in cost-benefit analysis of chemicals management options. These values provide evidence that chemicals management systems are worth implementing.

The second round of health effects, which will be surveyed in 2023, include thyroid dysfunction, miscarriage, hypertension, non-fatal cancer, and skin sensitization. [Publication: Surveys of Willingness-to-Pay to Avoid Negative Chemicals-related Health Effects (SWACHE)] [Project Landing Page]


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